Congressional Republicans: Still Looking For Jobs In Uteruses

In contrast to their purported focus on the revitalizing the economy and creating jobs, Congressional Republicans continue to make the intimate details of uteruses and the decisions of those who have them their top priorities.  For bonus hypocrisy points, this attack comes in the form of an overriding federal-level piece of legislation designed to standardize [lack-of-]access laws across state borders, yet is proposed by a member of the party which loves squawking about states' rights when it comes to things like gun control and health insurance regulations.

So what is it they want to restrict this time? 

Minors' access to abortion services*.  This new bill, proposed by Republican senator John Boozman (AR) and five co-sponsors, would institute a nationwide requirement of parental notification before a minor may get an abortion.  According to the text of the bill, this means both parents, via certified mail with delivery receipt and "restricted delivery" (meaning the named recipient must be the one to sign for it; some quick googling tells me that means each notification would cost about $10, plus time for a staffer to handle the mailings and such), and a 4-day waiting period between notification and the abortion itself.  It would also require that, if the parent chooses to seek a court order preventing the abortion, the court issue an injunction against it, disallowing the abortion "until the issue has been adjudicated and the judgment is final."  How long does that take?  Anyone more familiar with court proceedings than I?  The bill also mandates a $1 million fine and 10 years imprisonment for any doctor found in violation.  There is a medical-emergency clause, and one for "clear and convincing evidence" of parental abuse - which as I read that, leaves it basically up to the doctor to determine what constitutes "convincing evidence" - but none for rape or molestation by someone other than the parent, not even a judicial-bypass option.

[TW: mention of hypothetical rape and forced pregnancy scenario]

So.  Imagine a teenage girl, let's say 17.  Old enough to make her own decisions for the most part, in her senior year of high school, applying to colleges, all that fun stuff.  Mere months from crossing that mystical line that transforms one from a legal child to a legal adult overnight.  She is in a relationship, and her boyfriend rapes her.  (Sadly, this is not at all a far-fetched scenario; 24% of teens in dating relationships have experienced sexual violence therein.)  She broke up with him, but doesn't want to accuse him, for any one of a number of reasons.  Because she still loves him, or because she's ashamed, or her parents are deeply religious and would punish her for it, or she's seen the gauntlet survivors are forced to traverse in the public eye in this culture and wants no part of it.  For whatever reason, she doesn't feel she can or should report him.  But a few weeks later, she discovers she's pregnant.  Now what?  Being pregnant doesn't magically make her ready to report him, or willing to talk to her parents about what happened if she wasn't before. 

As things currently stand, she might live in a place that permits minors access to abortion services without requiring parental involvement.  If she doesn't, she might be lucky enough to live close to a border with a state that does, and/or have the resources and time to make it possible to cross to another state to access a legal abortion. 

And that is precisely the scenario Boozman and his cronies want to prevent, as they outright admit.  By god, there will be no crossing of borders to obtain services!  Those services will be the same level of inaccessible no matter where you try to go!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the major point of our system of governance, as a collection of semi-autonomous states able to make our own laws on a number of issues, largely about the ability to go somewhere else if you didn't like the laws of your area?  Isn't that what state-level opponents of legal abortion like to claim, as they slowly tighten the noose?  That if you don't like it you can go somewhere else where the laws are more permissive?  And now this explicit attempt to make that impossible.  Hypocrites; color me shocked.

Anyway, if this law passes, the girl of a few paragraphs ago will have no option.  She will either have to accuse her rapist and face the victim-blaming gauntlet, or let everyone think she's irresponsible and face the judge-and-shame-pregnant-teens gauntlet.  And if her parents so choose, they can force her to bear her rapist's child and there is not a damn thing she can do about it no matter where she goes.  In what world is this a moral thing to do to someone?

Or another scenario.  A teen gets pregnant via consensual intercourse when the condom breaks.  Zie wants an abortion.  Zie lives with hir mother, but hir father disappeared years ago and nobody has any idea where he went.  With no forwarding address and the requirement being that both parents are notified via mail, what is this teen supposed to do?  Again I'll point out that there is no provision for judicial bypass, as most parental-notification bills include.  If a minor cannot locate and notify *both* hir parents, there is no recourse, and zie will be forced to have the baby or resort to illegal and unsafe abortion methods.  Congratulations, Boozman: your fucked-up law could end up killing the pregnant person and, you do realize this, yes?  The fetus in that case dies too. 

I'll also add that (as has been pointed out many times before) by anti-choice logic on this issue, parents should be able to force pregnant teens to abort, too.  If the parent can step in and make the decision about what to do with the pregnancy, irrespective of the teen's decision, well...that sword cuts both ways.  Of course we all know pro-forced-birthers would be up in arms if a parent ever tried to use their parental override that way (and rightfully so; remember, pro-choice is not pro-abortion, and we respect the right of the pregnant person to decide, so *any* overriding of that in any direction is bad in our eyes), but again:  Hypocrites. 

Color me shocked. 

*Typical Republican politics, to target the least powerful; first the poor via H.R. 3 and associated legislation, now minors.


Vickia13 said...

Unfortunately it will come down to a bunch of dead kids. Or sterilized through the attempts to take care of things illegally. Are these politicians so uneducated as to think they will be the magical ones to stop abortions? There have been ways to terminate pregnancies for hundreds of years. They believe people will just automatically stop attempting it just because they wish it. I'm not shocked, I'm dumbfounded.

Jadelyn said...

 Yes.  Emphasis on the DUMB. 

The scary part is, I have witnessed pro-forced-birthers actually say that if people seeking illegal abortion die, they deserved it for trying to have an abortion.  They quite literally do not care about killing people because in their minds, they "deserve" it.

vickiea13 said...

 And the are truly NOT pro-life!!  Just anti-abortion.  They don't care what HUMAN has to die, as long as the non-viable cells do not.

Rmhunt said...

 But where do you draw the line?  If my 11 or 12 year old was pregnant (and you'd be amazed at how many are getting pregnant at that age) I would want to know if she were pregnant.  At that age an abortion really should be done by a specialist in order to prevent reproductive problems in the future if she chooses to  take that path.  I don't know what we would do in that situation but I would at least want to be a part of the decision and get her the best possible medical care not have it left up to her or someone else.

Jadelyn said...

 You know studies have shown that minors who get pregnant and seek abortions do, overwhelmingly, involve their parents in the decision?  Something like 85%, I seem to recall (from the campaign against the last iteration of parental-notification in CA a few years ago, so the statistics might be slightly old, but I don't imagine they've changed all that much).  Also that counselors at clinics do encourage minors seeking abortion to talk to their parents, absent indicators of abuse?  So it's more a matter of having a good, strong, open relationship, and doing your best to convey to your kid that she can come to you and you will respond with love and support.  The government can't legislate that, and I strongly oppose attempts to try, which is basically what parental notification bills are.

And while you say this as a parent genuinely concerned about getting her better medical care, I'm sure you know there are parents out there whose desire to know their teen's reproductive status stems from a desire to control rather than to help.  When I had a pregnancy scare at 15, my father told me he would "lock you in the house for nine months, if I have to, to make sure you don't do anything to that baby."  Not even kidding.  I turned out to not be pregnant anyway, but in that case, a parental notification law would have given him the opportunity to forcibly override my decision and force me to give birth against my will.  I can't get behind a bill that would allow that kind of parent that sort of power.  I just can't.

Rmhunt said...

 First off, you know some of my history and know what 3 kinds of hell i lived through.  Yes i know the whole parent control thing and was told if i got pregnant don't bother coming home because we'll just show you back to the door.  And as i said i don't know what we would do.  On one hand i don't agree with abortion but on the other I couldn't force my 11 year old to ruin her life and possibly her reproductive system having a baby at that age or force her to have to contend with having a baby stemming from a traumatic event.  I get it, I really do.  After living through years of that type traumatic hell, I understand better than most on either side.  I couldn't care less about the parent, the legislators, or the government regardless of the side they come down on.  My ONLY concern is for well being of these kids.  No i don't have the answer here, never claimed to but I get tired of both sides grandstanding and their bullshit.  The only concern should be these kids and what is best for them on an individual basis.  If you're 17, yeah most likely you have the capacity to make a rational, well thought out decision.  At 11 or 12, most likely you don't and if not a parent regulating this, then extensive counseling or something. Someone has to make sure these kids aren't getting the shaft and have someone to walk through this with them every step of the way and then even afterwards. 

Jadelyn said...

 Well, yeah, that's why I said I'm sure you know about that kind.  :-/  I also agree there's a world of difference between a 17-yr-old getting pregnant and an 11-yr-old.  Also because by legal definition, any activity that results in a pregnant 11-yr-old is some form of rape, as a child that young cannot legally consent.  So that complicates it even further. 

But you know you really don't just walk in and say "Abortion, please!" and they say "Of course, here you go!" and that's all, right?  There is counseling at the very least *offered*.  And for a girl so young, there would damn sure be extensive counseling.  Clinics will even turn people away who seem unsure or unready to make their decision.  It's not like there's some kind of abortion quota or anything.  At least not in legal clinics; back-alley monsters like that Gosnell fucker just churn 'em out without a thought because they're only in it to make $ off desperate people.  But a good clinic, there would definitely be extensive counseling to take care of such a young girl in that situation, including reporting to the proper authorities if there's evidence of abuse or anything.  And I know most clinics offer some form of post-counseling if the client seems to need it; also there are organizations like Exhale, dedicated to post-abortion counseling without judgment, helping women no matter how they feel about their abortions, according to what each needs.

Rmhunt said...

so maybe legislation is the answer but not the way they are trying to do it. Maybe the answer is 1) stricter laws and crackdown on the "churning" out abortions clinic that are in it for money making and 2) making extensive counseling manditory for those seeking abortions under 17.  Like I said I don't necessarily have the answer but there has to be something.  

Jadelyn said...

 The problem with stricter laws regarding clinics is that the kinds of clinics that are the problem, aren't the ones operating by the laws.  It's like stricter gun laws as a solution to gun crime - those who are dangerous with guns, aren't the ones who are accessing them by legal channels anyway, so it just largely punishes law-abiding citizens/clinics.  Enforcement would be a good step - but not selective enforcement against PP, which is a problem in many places (Ken Cuccinelli, AG in Virginia, for example).  Ironically, Gosnell *was* actually reported by several women, but they were ignored because they were young, poor, mostly immigrants.  Which is a problem with law enforcement and our social structures of whose accusations and testimonies we value.

But so long as counselling required was actually unbiased - none of this legislatively determining a script for what the counselor must say, as several states have done - I would actually support that idea, at least for minors, as a compromise measure. 


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